Defective Remington Rifle Injuries Trigger Consumer Lawsuits

Defective Remington Rifle injuries are triggering consumer lawsuits that blame a faulty mechanism. The so-called “Walker Fire Control” trigger mechanism can lead to misfire, which has led to thousands of complaints over unintended discharge of its Model 700 rifle, many of which have been handled in private, out-of-court settlements.

Most recently, a Montana man claims a defective Remington rifle trigger left him paralyzed. Brad Humphrey is suing gun maker, Remington, over allegations concerning defects in the rifle that paralyzed him in a 1989 shooting, said NBC Montana. Humphrey and his stepson, Paul Travis Kohr, were elk hunting when Kohr slipped, his Remington model 700 went off, and Humphrey was shot in the spine. In a similar case, Richard Barber of Manhattan, New York, said his wife was unloading a model 700 rifle in 2000, when it went off and killed his son.

In Texas, a man was shot in the foot in 2009, suffering significant injuries. Joel Lovell reached a financial settlement  with the Remington Arms Company LLC of Madison, North Carolina after filing of a lawsuit in late 2011 that asserted that Remington Model 700 rifles are constructed with a dangerous and defective Walker Fire Control System that can cause the weapons to fire without a trigger pull when the safety is released and the main bolt is moved, or the gun is jarred.

In all the cases, the Remington Model 700 rifle fired unexpectedly and without the trigger being pulled.

CNBC News explained that a small piece of metal called a “trigger connector”—the key component of the firing mechanism patented in 1950 by Merle “Mike” Walker, a Remington engineer—provides a smooth action at a reasonable price. The connector is mounted on a spring within the firing mechanism, between the trigger and the sear (the metal bar that keeps the firing pin back). The patent states that the connector smoothes the trigger action and eliminates “trigger slap” (trigger bounce back after firing).

The Texas lawsuit notes that while Remington Arms uses a safer alternate trigger mechanism in some rifles, Remington still includes the Walker Fire Control design in many products. This is of concern given that more than five million Americans own Remington Model 700 rifles constructed with the defective Walker Fire Control System.

Based on a CNBC documentary, Remington paperwork reveals that Remington rejected Walker’s “trigger block” over its cost, about 51/2 cents per gun in 1948. Remington told CNBC that its Model 700 “has been free of defects since it was first produced.”

In 2007, Remington introduced a new firing mechanism for the 700 that includes Walker’s original feature, is marketed as the “X-Mark Pro,” and which eliminates Walker’s trigger connector. A source close to Remington told CNBC that the connector was removed over legal issues; however, despite mounting lawsuits, deaths, and serious injuries, Remington still asserts that its older system is safe. Remington has never issued a recall and continues to use the “Walker Trigger” in its Remington 770; older 700 models with the “Walker Trigger” can be found for sale, nationwide.

We previously wrote that a number of police departments rejected the Remington Model 700 Rifle. The Portland, Maine department took its supply out of service over unintentional misfires; the Kissimmee, Florida police department sold its 700s after a rifle went off unexpectedly in a 2005 drug raid; the national New Zealand police force stopped its use of the rifles over safety issues; and unexpected discharges of 700s at the Marine sniper training school at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, led to a changes in rifle handling procedures there.

A CNBC investigation linked the Remington Model 700 to 24 deaths, hundreds of injuries, and an array of lawsuits, as of 2010.

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